Internalize This

If you’re working to make marketing better in your organization, odds are you’re thinking carefully about the line between internal and external capabilities. Beyond all the noise around in-housing as a trend, what should you be considering as you draw that line? And what pitfalls should you be carefully avoiding? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • Is in-sourcing actually on the rise? Research from the ANA recently found that 78 percent of its members had some kind of in-house agency in 2018, up from 58 percent in 2013.
  • Predictably, agencies are quite nervous about this particular trend.

Pause Reflect Image

  • Why all the interest in building up internal muscle? The ANA’s research points to cost savings and deep brand knowledge as the two biggest factors.
  • This list also highlights a huge pitfall of in-sourcing. If you begin by asking: “How can we save money?”, you’re starting on the wrong foot. You’re much better following BCG’s advice: “No company should make a move without first considering its marketing strategy.”
  • Most pitfalls, however, happen further downstream where your vision bumps up against the reality of execution. Here’s a tipto smooth over some of these bumps: “Before you start your hiring spree, map out the organizational structure of your in-house agency. This will help you understand who to hire and in what order.”
  • Speaking of hiring, don’t be surprised if that spree feels more like a struggle—especially if your office lacks the central location and fun, casual vibe that agency folks are accustomed to.
  • Even after you’ve succeeded in designing that new org chart and filling it with bright new hires, the single biggest challenge—according to the ANA research—still lies ahead. So what is this big, ominous headache? Keeping up with changing tech? Cranking out high quality work? Nope, it’s … managing workflows. 😮

  • There’s a lesson here worth remembering: running an agency might look sexy or simple from the outside, but it’s far from easy. Bear this in mind as you move forward on your in-housing journey and you’ll be well prepared for the messy reality that lies ahead. And who knows, you might gain a bit more empathy for your agencies in the process.


Word of Wisdom

Management guru Peter Drucker saw outsourcing as a strategic decision with cost savings as a mere byproduct. We think he was onto something.



Try this

This streamlined update of the Outsource Decision Matrix was created with startup leaders in mind, but we think you’ll find it useful as you decide where to draw the line between in-house and outsourced in your organization.

Issue #69
May 19, 2019

Further Reading